The South End
Traditionally, the "South End," is a term used to describe the flood plain pasture land located south of Lydius Street, east of South Pearl, and bordered by the southern boundary of Albany that had been deeded from the Dutch Church to the city in 1815. It frequently was referred to as "the Pastures." Today, the term "South End" is much more encompassing - covering both sides of South Pearl Street (maybe almost all the way west to Delaware Avenue).
The purpose of this exposition is to describe the southeastern corner of the original city of Albany in its pre-industrial context - namely the settlement and development of the area south of Lydius Street (today's Madison Avenue) and below (east of ) South Pearl Street. We offer a public program that focuses on a particular aspect of the initial settlement of the South End!
The detail shown here is from an engineer's map made by Evert Van Allen in 1818. You might click on key landmarks including Schuyler Mansion, the residence of Captain Samuel Schuyler, Lydius Street, the Beaverkill, the ferry, the tip of Castle Island, and South Pearl Street. The maps made by Surveyor General and later South End resident Simeon De Witt during the 1790s also are of interest but far less detailed.
Philip Schuyler erected an elegant and grand mansion on the side of the hill at the end of the last French & Indian War. At that time, it overlooked an unbroken expanse of pasture land that belonged to the Albany Dutch Reformed Church. The map on the right shows the so-called "Pastures" with each lot or parcel numbered and available for sale.
Already in informal use as a pastureland, "the pastures" were deeded to the city of Albany in its municipal charter in 1686. The following year, Domine Dellius negotiated the transfer of fifty acres of the land to the church in payment for a debt.
The first ward assessment roll of 1799, showed a number of very marginal residences located east of what became South Pearl Street. Two distinct sections of the first ward census for 1800 showing concentrations of "all other free persons" probably were living in this area as well.
By 1810, Afro-Albanian South End pioneer Captain Samuel Schuyler had settled on South Pearl Street and was acquiring adjoining lots. From then to the present, South Pearl Street was developed as the "main street" of the South End. Despite being at the mercy of the annual spring flooding of the Hudson, the area became densely inhabited by actual residents and utilized in a range of industrial applications.
This offering will be expanded to cover the early years of the South End in better detail. However, much has been written and posted on this neighborhood from then to today as it served as a first home to several waves of newcomer groups.
Detail from a city map made by city surveyor Evert Van Allen in 1818 that includes the definition and numbering of the lots in the South End. Copied from a photostat of the original in the City Engineer's Collection" at the Albany County Hall of Records.
first posted: 7/10/09; last revised 4/3/11